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UPDATE: Residents return home after train derailment in Littlerock results in evacuations

Officials say no chemicals leaked from overturned cars

Posted: July 27, 2011 3:08 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2011 3:08 p.m.

Littlerock resident gives an eyewitness account of train derailment. Authorities issued voluntary evacuations of residents within 300 feet of the area due to possible hazardous materials. No injuries were reported. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

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A train derailment in Littlerock Wednesday afternoon prompted the evacuation of some homes in the area of the sparsely populated desert community, but no one was injured and none of the cars leaked, officials said.

About 1,500 residents displaced by the evacuation were offered shelter at Almondale Middle School, but by 6 p.m. they were allowed back home.

At least 22 tanker cars owned by Union Pacific left the track that parallels Pearblossom Highway about 1:25 p.m., said Inspector Matt Levesque of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The southbound train was hauling 70 cars. The derailment happened near the intersection of 92nd Street East and East Avenue T.

A spokesman for Union Pacific confirmed that at least six tank cars were identified on the company's railway manifest as having transported hazardous material that day. But all had unloaded their chemical cargo in Roseville, near Sacramento, spokesman Aaron Hunt said.

Three of the six tank cars had previously transported flammable liquid, two of them had carried chlorine - the chemical used to clean swimming pools - and the sixth one had hauled anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer used in farming that is potentially explosive in large quantities.

"All of these cars had off-loaded in Roseville," Hunt said. "But, even though they had been off-loaded, they contain trace amounts, like a gallon milk jug does. And that's why they had to do a thorough damage assessment."

By 4:30 p.m., fire officials announced their inspection of all the overturned cars revealed no leaks of any sort.

"We've done a visual inspection of the cars that were overturned and determined that none are leaking and that the tanks have not been compromised," Levesque said.

Eight firefighters specially trained for dealing with hazardous material were dispatched to the derailment by 2:30 p.m. as well as specialized a Los Angeles County Health Department hazardous material unit, the inspector said.

Before lifting the evacuation order, hazardous material crews carried out a "more thorough inspection" to make sure there were no gases leaking around the overturned cars, Levesque said.





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